3 Asian Stereotype Parenting Practices You Should Follow (5 minute read)

Although I hate being put in a box, stereotypes can sometimes be true for an individual. It's this observed behaviour that is generalized about a group of people who share a cultural/ethnic background. It's the generalizing part that annoys me.

**Click Below To Listen** 

I am someone who was shaped by a mosaic of Western and Eastern experiences. Defining my identity as a Chinese-Canadian mom is an ongoing journey. 

Last week, I talked about Asian stereotype parenting practices that I experienced as a child and will not follow

This week, to defy being a stereotypical Asian-Canadian kid who rejects her culture, I'm going to share 3 Asian parenting practices that I see value in and will instill into my role as mom.

I've already talked about the preservation of languageChinese medicine, and superstitions. What about food?

I mainly cook Chinese food. I'm a Foodie. I married a Foodie. My friends are Foodies. 

Do you know any Asian person who ISN'T a foodie? Or am I stereotyping now?

I digress.

Here are my top 3 Asian stereotype parenting practices that I experienced as a kid and will follow

1. Teach Kids About Money

When I first met my husband, he told me this story about how his accounting colleagues call him CCB because he would never pay full price for anything.

What does CCB stand for? Cheap. Chinese. Bastard.

Whether it's your mom, your neighbour, that customer who comes in and haggles for a deal every single time or that friend who always knows where the biggest sales are, we all know some cheap Asian person. 

I swear Russell Peters is the best at illustrating that stereotype.

When I was a kid, my parents constantly gave me the whole, "Money doesn't grow on trees so you better work hard and get yourself a university degree" speech. I'll talk more about the whole hard-working immigrant parents and a generation of entitled coddled kids another time. 

We didn't grow up with a lot. My dad was a blue-collar, government worker (He lived and breathed the Iron rice bowl鐵飯碗whose biggest responsibility was to make sure there was food on the table and a roof over our heads.

My mom worked part-time as a seamstress for a Chinese-owned (damn CCBs who pinched every penny out of their workers) furniture company while driving us to all the different activities she put us in (foreshadowing my next point).

I remember my dad telling me repeatedly what a mortgage was, how much of his paycheque went into the house every month and how far along we were to being mortgage free.   
Let the countdown begin...15 years...10 years...5 years...let's squeeze those extra payments.

Don’t get me started on how much he talked about retirement and how hard it was save for that.

My mom was the queen of flyers and coupons when it came to feeding our family.

I remember when I was little, Safeway had these dollar day sales where a carton of eggs was like a buck or something. But they would put a limit of 1 per customer.  

So my mom being who she is would make my sisters and I all go to the store with her. She’d give us a dollar each (plus a dime for tax), hand us a carton of eggs and would tell us to pay for them at different registers. There are no limits for my mom. She was an incredibly resourceful badass.
So what does that mean for me as a mom? Obviously, I’m a badass too...right?
I opened my first bank account when I was around 7 or 8. I remember it was right after Lunar New Year. My mom convinced me to put all my red pocket money in there. She explained how interest works and that it's like getting free money every month by letting the bank use the money. She told me it's not like I needed to use that money right away. I ain't got bills to pay. Everything else that I needed, she and my dad paid for.

Now that I think of it...how the hell did I understand all that?

Anyway, I remember every time we went to the bank to update my bank book, I would get all excited about seeing the date stamps and the few dollars of interest I got every month. 
Look at all those 5 cent candies I could buy with that free money!
My parents taught me how to live within my means because they wanted me to understand where the money came from and where it was put towards. They grew up with humble surroundings and they moved to Canada so their children could have better opportunities.

And, it worked. I'd like to consider myself somewhat financially literate. 

I'm not in debt (I do have a mortgage but unlike my dad, I’m not counting down the days for many reasons which I’ll need to talk about another time...man this is becoming a longer and longer post). 

I don't spend frivolously on things. 
I have a budget and I stay within it. 
I invest responsibly and I know how to save. 

FYI, my husband thinks I'm a bigger CCB than him...and I probably am.  

Being transparent with actual numbers is crucial so children understand the value of a dollar. It shouldn't be taboo for a kid to know how much their swimming lessons cost or know how much their mom or dad makes.

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At the end of the day, I think the takeaway is to have open and honest conversations with our kids about money. Managing personal finances, creating and meeting budgets, finding joy in non-material things aren't taught at school; even if they were, how we manage our money as parents provide a model for how our kids do it when they are older. 

2. Put Kids in Extracurricular Activities

My mom was frugal with a lot of things because she wanted to save her hard earned money so she could pay for our extracurricular activities. 

I've talked a lot about all the different activities I've been in...piano, art, Brownies, basketball, swimming, skating, Tae Kwon Do, Chinese school, math, gymnastics and the list goes on.

Exposing kids to different extracurricular activities is incredibly beneficial for developing their independence, exploring their passions, improving their self-confidence, work ethic, resilience, social, physical, cognitive and motor skills...etc. Too many articles to cite.

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All I know is that because I had things to do outside of school, I didn't have time to dick around and I really knew how to appreciate my downtime. I was learning about work-life balance before I even knew the term. 

My mom didn't know all the science behind it but she took a lesson from her own mom, my Por Por, who I, unfortunately, never got to meet.
Whatever you learn is yours to keep; no one can ever take that away from you.
And that is something I want to instill in my daughter.

3. Value Their Family

You go to a Chinese dinner, a Vietnamese gathering, a Korean get together and what do you see?


Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Auntie This, Uncle That, Family friends, friends of Uncle This, Cousins of Cousin It...and the list goes on.

Spending time with my family and taking care of each other is ingrained in my Asian blood. My family is always my top priority (Obviously, second to myself...ie. I take care of myself Before Anyone Else. I am my own BAE because if I'm not good, I ain't gonna be good for anybody else). 

Although my parents raised me to be strong and independent, there's this underlying, unspoken agreement that they will always be there for me if I need them to be. They're my backsplash if I get hit by a huge piece of shit. 

And that unspoken agreement is mutual as in when my parents need my help, I'm there to take care of them. 

Whether it be taking them out for Dim Sum, dropping by their place to put away their newspapers when they're out of town or helping my mom download a coupon app on her phone, I'm there...like literally 10 minutes away. 

I think with this big, bad and ugly world, having a trusted support system (blood-related or not) that you can lean on and give back to is incredibly important. And I want my daughter to have these family values, to appreciate her parents, to know we will be there when she needs us and to willingly want to help us when the time comes. 

So Readers, what are some things that your parents taught you that you most definitely try and keep?

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